A FATHER of six from Northern Ireland has come up with a novel way of raising spirits for mourners at his funeral – by buying himself a coffin built in the shape of a giant Jack Daniels bottle.

Former soldier Anto Wickham started planning his own funeral after seeing eight army pals killed during the Iraq war. The 48-year-old, from Belfast, paid a Nottingham-based firm £3 000 (R32 935) for the ten-foot high replica of a bottle of his favourite tipple.

Wickham, who spent 22 years with the Royal Irish Regiment, said: “While working in Iraq I had a very close call. Over a 28-day period in February 2007 I was attacked 74 times and there were some days we would get three or four hits in one day.

“I was attacked by heavy machine gun fire, IEDs and roadside bombs. I lost eight colleagues. At the time I thought I would have to plan my funeral because something could go wrong.

“I didn’t want a normal funeral and it had to be a celebration of life because I have been to too many funerals of colleagues where they were very sad occasions. I wanted something completely different and I decided my favourite drink is Jack Daniels.”

Wickham jetted over from Afghanistan, where he is working as a private security guard, this week to take a first glimpse at his novelty buy. He said: “It is absolutely fantastic.” – Daily Mail